WE all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and, since I am still fully committed to fulfilling at least a couple of those New Year’s resolutions, I am about to conquer Spain.
Or at least Spanish. Easy as pie, or tortilla, being in Spain and all…
I am already a natural born linguist. Fully versed in bullshit, the art of blagging and have on occasion been accused of verbal diarrhoea, but that might be a tad too much information.
Not being much of a ‘self-starter’, an annoying term favoured by recruitment consultants worldwide, I have to enlist help in the process of elevating my Spanish from mortifyingly embarrassing to acceptably rubbish.
The well-known language schools have, seemingly, avoided the recession since they wanted some €45 per hour to awaken the inner scholar. They probably attract the Russian Oligarchs by serving caviar and vodka to liven up the class, which might just make it worthwhile, come to think of it.
Then there was the mainstay of language schools, catering for mere mortals. Quite reasonably priced, but four hours every? I wanted to learn Spanish, not gain a doctorate in it.
Luckily, there is the half-way house solution of the more reasonably priced teachers. I found mine by word of mouth, a lovely South American lady who offered classes on a small-group basis for a quarter of the price.
So, sleeves rolled up, diccionario in mano and off I go to my first lesson. Having watched a couple of Pedro Almodóvar movies, I am confident of being able to hold my head up high and throw a couple of off-the-cuff remarks into the fold to impress my new profesora.
“Bienvenido, Ulrica, cuentame sobre ti!” She says with a big expectant smile. I am guessing this means she wants some sort of reply. Oh, the pressure…
Now, whoever said that communication is 95 percent non-verbal should have their head examined. As much as I shrug and mumble incoherently, hands waving wildly for inspiration or immaculate interception, my lovely teacher is not really getting anything. Nada! I think that maybe I should give it all up as a bad job and resolve to stay in guirilandia (as we foreigners in expat communities in Spain are known, in case you’d missed this term of ‘endearment’).
But some of that Almodovar movie must have stuck, since out of the ‘azul’ I am able to stutter a poorly-formulated sentence in response. My teacher smiles tolerantly, repeating what I said in perfect, melodic Spanish. It turns out my efforts are more inspired by Manuel in FawltyTowers. I have perfected my ‘¿Que?’ but the rest will be a long hard slog.
After the lesson, a fellow student kindly sidles up to me to share the secret of her success. It all boils down to getting a ‘novio’ apparently; pillow talk is the best way of perfecting your language skills. It might also be an exceedingly good way of losing, or at least deeply annoying, your spouse. So for the sake of matrimonial harmony I shall have to persevere in the class room. After all, it is way too early in the year to give up on those good intentions.